Born: March 29, 1909 in Corrigan, Texas
Died: Jan. 1, 1967
The "King of Hillbilly Piano Players," Moon Mullican began his musical career playing the organ, which his religious father had purchased to practice singing hymns at church. However, Moon had befriended one of the black sharecroppers on his family farm, a guitarist named Joe Jones, who introduced him to the blues. His religious family did not always approve, and Mullican left home at 16.
In 1936, Mullican covered Cab Calloway's "Georgia Pine" and also sang his own compositions "Ain't You Kinda Sorry" and "Swing Baby Swing" for Leon Selph's Western swing band, The Blue Ridge Playboys. He also played and recorded with Cliff Bruner's Texas Wanderers, The Sunshine Boys, and Jimmie Davis.
In the early 1940s with the Texas Wanderers, he sang on the hits "Truck Driver's Blues" and "I'll Keep on Loving You." He also recorded a rendition of Irving Berlin's "Blue Skies," the blues ballad "Sundown Blues," a jazz/blues/gospel hybrid "Lay me Down Beside my Darling," and "Pipeline Blues." Record labels often did not know what to do with his eclectic music. Mullican also covered blues standards like Lead Belly's "Goodnight Irene," and Memphis Minnie's "What's the Matter with the Mill."
His top 10 hits included the No. 1 "I'd Sail My Ship Alone," "Sweeter than the Flowers," "Cherokee Boogie," and many "Jole Blon" derivatives. With the advent of rock 'n' roll, Mullican recorded "Seven Nights to Rock," "Moon's Rock," and other songs. He became a member of the Grand Ole Opry in 1951.